Less than a week after former congressman and conservative stalwart Steve Stockman roared back to win nomination in a securely Republican House district in Texas 16 years after he last served in Congress, many still wonder how he pulled off such a stunning comeback. Others wonder just why so much of the national press missed the truly incredible saga of the Lone Star State‚??s ‚??comeback kid‚?Ě and, more importantly, how the 55-year-old Stockman — onetime homeless person and born-again Christian — did it.
In an exclusive interview with Human Events this weekend, Stockman spelled out just how he made it to a run-off after an initial primary with a dozen candidates and then went on to beat an opponent he estimates spent more than $700,000 to his ‚??$170,000 or so.‚?Ě
‚??Well, you‚??ll hear a lot of ‚??Stockman was lucky‚?? and similar stuff — just don‚??t believe it,‚?Ě the Republican nominee in Texas‚?? 36th District told us. ‚??I could not have done it without all the hard-working, grass-roots volunteers. Believe me, we had them — young conservatives who came into an old motorcycle shop, worked the precincts and made phone calls, slept on the floor, and ate MREs [Army rations] for their three meals. There‚??s nothing like volunteers who believe in a candidate and a cause.‚?Ě
But, he insisted, ‚??the candidate has to believe in something to attract and motivate those kind of supporters.‚?Ě Recalling his good-as-Goldwater voting record (American Conservative Union rating: 100 percent) while serving in the House from 1994-96, Stockman said ‚??we talked about our support for the right to keep and bear arms. Our yard signs said I was ‚??NRA-endorsed‚?? We embraced social issues such as abortion and talked a lot about my pro-life record and support for traditional marriage. We were conservatives and proud of it.‚?Ě
When we pointed out that Stockman‚??s run-off opponent, financial planner Stephen Takach, also embraced those positions and agreed with him on the immediate repeal of Obamacare, the former congressman interrupted and said: ‚??Excuse me. Those positions went up on his website after May 28, when he was facing me in the run-off. Up to that point — and we photographed it — his website never mentioned issues like that and he spoke primarily that he was a businessman who could create jobs.‚?Ě
Did the support of national conservative organizations pack a punch in the primary? Stockman shot back: ‚??You bet. And we sought them and used them. The NRA, Gun Owners of America, Citizens United, all were for us. And, while we couldn‚??t afford television, their support allowed us to do mailings, and reach the conservative base.‚?Ě He also cited entertainer Pat Boone, the spokesman for the 60 Plus Seniors Association, cutting a robocall for him that went out to voters on the day of the run-off July 31. Stockman, like Boone and 60 Plus President James L. Martin, has long supported outright repeal of the death tax.
Stockman also denied published reports that he ‚??ducked debates.‚?Ě As he told us, ‚??Look, I was willing to debate my opponent anywhere. He just kept making these demands that we not appear on stage at the same time and did things that made any joint appearance very difficult to arrange.‚?Ě
On July 31, the former congressman won with 55.8 percent of the vote and his nomination is considered tantamount to election this fall. Takach, however, has yet to call him to congratulate him or to publicly concede the race. Of this, Stockman says, ‚??I‚??m not going to say anything bad about him. He‚??ll come along when he‚??s ready to. But remember, I lost two races for Congress before I defeated (42-year Democratic Rep.) Jack Brooks in 1994, and then lost re-election in ‚??96 and a race for railroad commissioner. It hurt to lose all right, but I always called the winner of the primary or the general. That‚??s what you have to do if you‚??re going to stay in politics.‚?Ě
Steve Stockman stayed in politics, persisted, and finally got that ‚??second chance‚?Ě so many who were defeated yearn for. In so doing, he spelled out a simple formula for doing this: working hard and having principles to believe in.